by Esther Vivas
Today humanity produces three times what was produced in the 1960s, while the population has only doubled. There is no production crisis in agriculture, but the impossibility of accessing food by large populations who cannot pay current prices. The solution cannot be more free trade.
The high level summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations held in Rome on Food Security ended on June 5th. The conclusions of the gathering do not indicate a change in the policy trends which have been in force these last years and which have led to the current situation. The declarations of good intentions made by various governments and the promises of millions of euros to end hunger in the world are not capable of ending the structural causes that have generated this crisis. On the contrary, the proposals made by the general secretary of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, to increase food production by 50% and to eliminate the export limits imposed by some of the countries affected, only reinforce the root causes of this crisis rather than addressing and guaranteeing the food security of the majority of the people in the global South. Continue reading
Rich nations may not have caused the food crisis, but their policies add to the suffering of the poor and starving
Strange things are happening in Rome. The head of the World Bank Robert Zoellick is here talking about the importance of helping small farmers in developing countries (forgetting to mention that his organisation has helped to put a lot of them out of business over the last 20 years) and the world’s leaders and media are suddenly fascinated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
It’s impossible to get a seat in the press room. Frustrated people tap grumpily on BlackBerrys while overwhelmed FAO staff attempt to fix the only photocopier. The last time they had a summit like this no one noticed or cared. This time the eyes of the world are on those gathered across the road from the ruins of ancient Rome.
There’s a food crisis and everybody’s trying to figure out what to do about it. Continue reading
This is the first part of a three-part series of articles found here on the world food crisis.
By Alex Lantier
As the June 3-5 Conference on World Food Security of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) began in Rome, FAO Director Jacques Diouf said of the explosion of food prices: “It is touching every country in the world. We have not only seen riots and people dying, but also a government toppled [in Haiti], and we know that many countries…could tilt to one way or the other depending on the discontent or satisfaction of their population.”
With these words, Diouf expressed the growing concern of governments and ruling elites internationally over the potentially revolutionary implications of the upward spiral of prices for basic food staples, which has already sparked a social and economic crisis of global dimensions. In recent months, strikes and demonstrations against rising food prices have occurred in many parts of the world. These initial struggles have exposed the contradiction between the elementary demand of the world’s masses for affordable food and the workings of the capitalist market.
Diouf called for donations of US$30 billion to be invested in world agriculture. Even were this sum to be allocated, it would not begin to address the sources of the current crisis, which lie in economic and political processes of privatization and price speculation that have unfolded over the past three decades and are bound up with the globalization of capitalist agriculture. Continue reading